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How to Locate Freshwater Springs

Updated July 19, 2017

Locating groundwater and fresh water springs is not a difficult task, but it does take a diligent eye. There are several above-ground clues that will tell you where there is water, and carefully paying attention to these clues can lead you to a bountiful source of water.

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  1. Study the geography of the place. Look in particular for hills and valleys, or if the landscape is primarily flat. Also look for animal trails or multiple tracks heading in the same direction.

  2. Look in valleys, crevices, gullies and ravines. Water is more likely to be underground here than on the top of the hill where it will drain to the bottom.

  3. Identify water-loving plants. Even if you can't see plants, cottonwoods and willows indicate that there is water near the surface. In barren terrains, a cluster of lush and green plants indicates water.

  4. Seek out wet patches near the plants. A spring that seeps up to the surface may create a small bog or swamp patch. Willows often grow near or on these.

  5. If you happen to find a small creek or stream during this, follow it. It may take you directly to the spring.

  6. Tip

    Always investigate cracked rocks that appear to be wet. Often times, springs will bubble up through these cracks rather than trying to seep through the soil.


    Not all water from the earth is potable. You should boil it thoroughly if you plan to drink it, and be aware of the use of chemicals, herbicides and other harmful substances that may be present.

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About the Author

Chelsea Rose began writing professionally in 2009. She has written veterinarian articles for and private clients. Currently a full-time student, she is finishing an associate degree in preparation to major in international studies and receive a minor in Mandarin Chinese through Portland State University.

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